Cleaving to the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
ובמלאת ימי טהרה… תביא כבש… אל פתח אהל מועד
“Blessed are You HaShem our God King of the Universe Who has enlivened us, sustained us, and brought us to this time.”
The Shehiyanu blessing is coined by our Sages as the ‘blessing of time’, since it is said on special exciting occasions that occur from time to time and not regularly. Although this blessing is of Rabbinic origin, there are numbers of mitzot which seem to highlight the obligation of expressing gratitude at hallmarks of time.
One of these mitzvot seems to be the commandment upon a woman who gives birth to bring an offering at the culmination of her purification process after the birth. According to the Sefer Hahinuch this mitzvah highlights the obligation to express gratitude for the miracle of the birthing process. Another law that seems to express the excitement at a certain period of time in the Temple is the law that bids Israelites to enter the ‘Cohanic Section’, just before the Sacrificial Altar, only at the time they are actually offering or slaughtering an offering. At such a special time of closeness to HaShem through this offering, an Israelite is allowed to take a number of steps closer towards the Holy of Holies, Shrine of the Holy Presence. This is the fourth level of holiness in the Temple, in continuation of our study in the book of Vayikra of the 10 holy allocations associated with the Temple.
In a similar, yet different way, we find that there were certain places in the Land of Israel where individuals chose to sanctify for a limited amount of time in order to offer sacrifices, before the Bait HaMikdash in Jerusalem was built, which allowed for extraneous altars to be permitted for sacrifice. One fascinating example of this is Avshalom’s (David’s son) offering at the altar in Hebron. Commentators explain that Avshalom chose Hebron to bring his offering, for he saw Hebron as being ominous for the success of monarchy, just as his father David began his reign in Hebron. In the past we have shown that essentially Hebron does have such a special status of sovereignty and rule, as can be rooted back even to Avraham’s stronghold of courage in saving Lot, the forerunner of Moav and the Davidic regal line.
Although Hebron does play a crucial role in the spiritual and sovereign development of the Land of Israel, it is not meant to detract the lofty level of Jerusalem but rather to enhance and lead up to it. David’s initial rule in Hebron was ordained by God and provided a springboard towards Jerusalem. However, Avshalom’s improper rebellion in Hebron was meant to sever the people away from his father David’s power in Jerusalem, and thus ended bitterly.
Once the Temple in Jerusalem was built all such ‘extraneous altars’ in Hebron or any place on earth became obsolete forever, which explains why our People, and all Mankind, are so much of need of the Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem today to shine its spiritual light, emanating from the light of Hebron, as was announced at dawn in the Temple – “the whole east is alight till Hebron” (Yoma ch. 3).
Real Stories from the Holy Land #164
“One night, I suddenly had many thoughts on a place I had worked at about a year and a half before. Several hours later in the morning, I “happened” to meet my previous boss, who subsequently took the initiative to ask me if I would like to return to my previous position from a year and a half ago…” (A.I)